Stories about people selling virtual goods from online multi-player games is not new. It's been a subject that some have followed for years. However, a new LA Times piece on the subject brings up some numbers and facts that probably could use a bit more detail. The article implies that $100 million to $200 million changes hands in the sale of online gaming items. Actually... that's not what they say at all. They say: "for stuff that exists only as bits of data on the hard drives of far-flung computers." Funny... that should include all digital music or digital content sold online. After all, that only exists as of data on the hard drives of far-flung computers. As for the many millions, that probably could use some more backup as well. The article quotes a few people who claim to be making quite a living just selling online items in video games -- even though it was just a year ago when one person made lots of news trying (and failing) to replace his income by video gaming. Has the market really advanced so much in a year? Admittedly, even Sony has recognized that people want to buy this stuff and has set up its own market for goods and characters in EverQuest. Still, the same guy who is making the claim about the $200 million "a year" (which also seems problematic, considering this market appears to be growing) is the same guy who, in the past, claimed the online gaming universe had the equivalent GDP to Bulgaria in 2002 and Namibia last year. Of course, when you looked at the details, though, even those seemed exaggerated. Also, the study focused on total GDP, rather than the more interesting GDP per capita, in which case we noted that the standings of online gamers was more like the Federated States of Micronesia rather than Namibia (quite a bit further down the list). Either way, the numbers in the article certainly make the market sound pretty big -- but there's little evidence to back it up.
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